Nelson Gahadza Senior Business Reporter
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava says the cordial trade relations between Zimbabwe and Rwanda are poised for faster growth.
As such, he said the two countries should expedite the implementation of several trade and cooperation agreements signed, earlier, between the two nations.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe-Rwanda Trade and Investment conference in Harare yesterday, Minister Shava said the meeting was aimed at enhancing trade relations between the two brotherly countries.
“We are signing more memorandums of understanding (MOU’s) in the areas of economic, trade and investment cooperation.
“This is a clear testimony to our commitment to making sure that the relations between the two countries produce results as quickly as possible and I am urging all parties involved to expedite the implementation of these and other previously signed agreements,” he said.
He noted the trade and investment conference, was a reciprocal conference following the inaugural Zimbabwe-Rwanda investment and trade conference that was held in Rwanda in September last year, which was attended by over 100 business people and officials from the public Sector.
“Here in Zimbabwe I welcome more than 60 member delegations coming from Rwanda with a desire to explore trade and investment opportunities in Zimbabwe in various areas,” he said.
Minister Shava said during the Kigali conference, four MOUs were signed between the governments of Zimbabwe and Rwanda in the areas of agriculture and livestock, information communication technology and e-Government, tourism and business, environment and climate change.
Also, an MOU was signed between the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and Rwanda Private Sector Federation.
Rwanda Minister of Trade and Industry Beata Habyarimana said Zimbabwe’s trade investment body ZimTrade and the Rwanda Board initiated the important forum to promote bi-lateral trade and investment opportunities between the two countries.
“The conference is coming at an opportune time when the bi-lateral relationship we are forging between the countries is growing.
“Our cooperation has grown exponentially in the last five years with several agreements signed in various common areas of interest such as education, energy, industry, agriculture, mineral resources, ICT , tourism as well as construction,” she said.
She noted that the first engagement between Zimbabwe and Rwanda was held virtually in March 2021 and this set the impetus for cooperation.
She added that Covid-19 had a significant impact on African economies; however, it taught the continent important lessons that there is a need for closer cooperation among countries in fighting global challenges.
“The second one is urgency for Africa self-reliance, hence reinforcing trade relations within countries on the continent are essential, and it actually improves the socio-economic status of our economies,” Minister Habyarimana said.
She said the second conference being held in Harare is to assess’ implementation progress on the joint ventures that were signed last year.
“We identify investment bottlenecks and find where we can improve the performance of the private sector of the two countries as we push to facilitate business growth in Rwanda and Zimbabwe,” she said.
ZimTrade chief executive Allan Majuru said the conference, being held under the theme “Explore, Invest and Export” shows how the trade agency has been working closely between Rwanda and Zimbabwe on investment, tourism and trade.
He said President Mnangagwa launched the National Export Strategy for Zimbabwe and one of the key deliverables is to diversify exports.
“From our end, we thought it is prudent to work with Rwanda so that our exports grow. “Exports between the two countries are currently insignificant, therefore we are finding a way to grow between the two nations,” he said.
According to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), the target is to grow exports by 10 percent every year up to 2023.
Mr Majuru said last year, the country achieved 13 percent growth in exports, which is above the national target of 10 percent.
In addition, he said last year during a conference in Rwanda, the country generated business deals worth US$10 million. The deals include exporting of Chilli to Rwanda while CAFCA has managed to push about 3 truckloads of cables into Rwanda.
Mr Zephanie Niyonkuru the deputy chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said if Zimbabwe tapped into the Rwanda economy, it would have automatically tapped into the regional market of more than 170 million people.
He said the two governments work together in many areas and they should ensure trade growth with increased private sector participation.